Archives for posts with tag: embodied modes

By Mona Sakr

A few days ago, I talked about Streeck’s taxonomy of gesture in Gesturecraft. It’s now time to share the taxonomy of hand action we’ve developed at the lab in response to a study of the hands in scientific inquiry. This taxonomy relates particularly to scientific inquiry contexts (though it may be useful for looking at hand action in other forums of experience) and is based on ‘reading’ both the form and function of hand actions. It’s inspired by literature in the field and video analysis of students involved in inquiry learning about the behaviour of light.

1.     Ergotic movements

Ergotic movements are those that change the surrounding environment . Such movements may involve changing the position of an object, or attempting to change its physical properties. In the context of scientific inquiry, ergotic movements are necessary in order to facilitate observations of particular phenomena.

2.     Epistemic movements

Epistemic movements are those that enable an individual to know more about the physical properties of an object. While ergotic movements are designed to change the surrounding environment, epistemic movements enable better perception of the surrounding environment e.g. through feeling the texture of an object.

3.     Deictic gesture

Deictic gestures are used to point to or physically highlight objects or areas in the physical world. They may be used to draw attention to a representational field or a particular aspect within a field.

4.     Re-enactment gestures

While deictic gestures draw attention to particular parts of the environment, re-enactment gestures focus on descriptive processes and so have an added temporal dimension of expression. Through using re-enactment gestures processes that are otherwise too fast to be visible can be slowed down.

5.      Ideational gestures

While all of the actions described above relate to physical phenomena that are present, ideational gestures can be used to indicate content that is not present in any respect, like abstract ideas or previous experiences. In the context of scientific inquiry, students may wish to invoke previously learned knowledge in order to make sense of what is currently occurring. Gesture may be helpful in this because it constitutes a way of representing absent knowledge.

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By Mona Sakr

In imagined bodies, I talked about the way we make sense of digital communication and suggested that engaging with a blog depends on imagining the embodied actions of the blogger.

One way to think about this is through Sigrid Norris’s concept of frozen action, which she uses in order to frame the communicative work of disembodied modes. Disembodied modes are those that don’t belong to a human body e.g. writing or the organisation of furniture in this room. Norris argues that disembodied modes are understood through frozen action rather than real-time action. Frozen action is action that has been performed previously. For example, a magazine on a table is understood in relation to the actions of (1) purchasing the magazine and (2) placing the magazine on the table, although neither of those actions are currently taking place.

“These actions are frozen in the material objects themselves and are therefore evident.” (Norris, 2004, p. 14).

In this framework, disembodied systems of representation rely on deductions about embodied action. In digital environments, the perception of what others do will be based on assumptions about the embodied work underlying these events. Empirical research is needed to answer questions that arise as a result of this framework:

  • What kinds of deductions do we make about embodied work on the basis of digital communication?
  • To what extent are these deductions correct i.e. do they match the embodied work that did actually enable the digital communication?
  • What results from the way we imagine embodied work underlying digital communication e.g. does it influence the way we think about the person we are in communication with?

 

Norris, S. (2004) Analyzing Multimodal Interaction: A methodological framework. New York: Routledge.

By Mona Sakr

How important is the body in a world of email communication and blogging? It seems that individuals can have influence on others without ever referencing their body. Or do emails and blogs reference a different kind of body? Does digital communication depend on imagined bodies? When I read a blog, do I necessarily imagine a body for the blogger? If so, what shape do these imaginings take?

I try this out…

I visit Keri Smith’s blog. Keri Smith is an illustrator and writer who makes quirky and beautiful books (e.g. ‘How to be an explorer of the world’). The most recent post on her blog is a photographed image of used teabags, followed by a quote from Georges Perec. Before I read the quote or reflect on the image, I imagine the actions that were necessary for the information in front of me to be gathered. Some one needed to have taken that photograph. Given that Keri Smith is an artist, I imagine that she took the photograph and she set up the scene to be photographed. I imagine also that she read this particular quote in the context of more general reading, and that her choice of this quote was marked by an embodied activity – looking up from the novel perhaps to consider what has just been read, or folding over the edge of the page to mark the place where the quote appears.

Image

In short, my appreciation of the blogpost is coupled with the reconstruction of activity that I assume made it possible. The activities were presumably carried out by a body. While I do not imagine a particular body with certain physical features, I think in terms of actions and capabilities – what the body must have been capable of doing and what it did. I make sense of the blog and the individual who writes it through this imagining of the body. I like the actions that (I assume) made the blog possible, and I therefore like the blog and blogger.

What place is there for imagined bodies in theories of social media and digital communication?